BIR slaps Mighty Corp. with P9.5-B tax evasion suit

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) yesterday filed a P9.56-billion tax evasion suit against local cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corporation (MC) and four of its key officers “for unlawful possession of articles subject to excise tax without payment and for possessing false, counterfeit, restored or altered stamps in violation of provisions of the National Revenue Code.”

Mighty Corp. Owner Alex Wong Chu King along with former NBI deputy director Reynaldo Esmeralda arrives at the NBI (MANILA BULLETIN)

Mighty Corp. Owner Alex Wong Chu King along with former NBI deputy director Reynaldo Esmeralda arrives at the NBI (Manila Bulletin)

Named respondents in the complaint were Mighty Corp. vice president for external affairs and assistant corporate secretary Alexander Wongchuking, MC president retired (Army) Lt. Gen. Edilberto Adan, executive vice president retired Judge Oscar Barrientos, and treasurer Ernesto Victa.

Sources said authorities are also looking at the non-payment of P5 billion in excise tax from 2010-2015.

The BIR is likewise considering the cancellation of Mighty Corp.’s license to operate following the seizure of counterfeit tax stamps.

The complaint stemmed from a joint raid conducted by the BIR and Bureau of Customs (BOC) at four Mighty Corp. warehouses at the San Simon Industrial Park, in San Isidro, Pampanga, early this month where the examiners using Taggant Reader (scanners) discovered that 87 percent of the more than 33 million cigarette packs bore fake stamps.

The random testing of 10 cases was reportedly done in the presence of Mighty Corp., barangay officials, police, and BOC personnel.

Mighty Corp. welcomed the probe as it denied using fake tax stamps, saying the scanners used to test the authenticity of the strip stamps were faulty.

“As a consequence of its acts and omissions, MC, together with its responsible corporate officers, is liable to pay an estimated aggregate deficiency excise tax liability in the total amount of P9.564 billion,” the complaint added.

The case against Mighty Corp. is the ninth case filed under the run-after-tax evaders (RATE) program of the BIR under Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay.

Mighty Corp. lawyer Sigfrid Fortun said “the company welcomes the filing of the complaint as it provides as an opportunity to clear our names and show we violated no laws. We will continue to cooperate with the government in its continuing effort at tax collection.” (With a report from Jeffrey G. Damicog)